Having a well-packed hospital bag and a well-stocked nursery are all well and good, but in reality there is a lot more preparation that goes into your B.B. Time. That is, Before Baby Time. When you start planning things during your pregnancy - whether this is your first or your fifth - you are essentially planning the life of another human being. Your new tiny mini-you is totally dependent on you to have your, er, stuff together for their arrival.
This means arranging for childcare for after that glorious maternity leave. Or, if you're planning to stay home, you'd have better looked into story times and mommy groups by the time little bean is here. Adjusting to a new - albeit insanely adorable - little one is always a new experience in itself. So you'd be doing yourself the most valuable favor in tackling these eight ever important tasks before that water breaks.
8 Pack A Weekend Bag
Okay, so we may have said that this isn't the only important preparation, but that doesn't mean that it isn't important at all! On the flip side, you would be pretty lost come crunch time if you hadn't packed the essentials. And that goes for baby too. In addition to a few outfit changes for yourself (think elastic band sweats and loose tops), don't forget a few choice items for the little one.
But more than that, be sure that you have breathable plain undies for yourself and a couple of diapers. Chances are, the hospital will let you take home some of the diapers and wipes they supply, but as you'll soon find, you can never have too many diapers. You can also do with a small stack of breast pads for leaking milk and forget that favorite lace bra. Opt for a two sizes too large sports bra and welcome its immense comfort.
And if you still have room (even if you don't, you'll make room for these), toss in some of your favorite toiletry essentials from home. Nothing helps you feel like yourself after 20 hours of labor like the familiar flowery scents of your home shower.
7 Pick A Pediatrician
What for, you ask? The baby won't need to see a doctor for months, you think? Well, think again. The truth is, your brand new baby gets to have their first office visit just a week or so after coming home.
Sure, at this time you may be living in your robe and shunning the harsh brightness of the outside world, but getting out for just a couple of hours for a doctor's appointments will help in making you feel like a part of the outside world again. Now that there is anything wrong with the snuggly bubble you've been in with that little peanut.
This will give you piece of mind when you head home
When choosing your pediatrician, consider the characteristics which make the best match for you. Is it their location? The ability to primarily see a nurse practitioner? Is it the doctor's age? Do you prefer a seasoned veteran or a fresh-faced newbie? You can also check out the ratings of different pediatricians from the patient perspective, giving you further guidance.
6 Save Money
You should have probably been doing this already, but really, who isn't guilty of splurging on weekend getaways or designer shoes? Now, however, it's crunch time. If you're currently working, it is important to know the company's policy on maternity leave.
Some employers pay just a portion of your salary, while others offer your entire pay. And, in other cases, your workplace may not even offer any maternity pay at all.
Find out what your financial options are
If this is the case, and even if not for that matter, it is important to have a "kitty" of money set aside as your pregnancy progresses. Babies may not be as crazy expensive as the more dramatic parents let on, but all of those extra purchases do add up. So be ready, and have that extra cash saved up before the baby gets here.
5 Get The Nursery Ready
Because it is one of the more exciting preparations, it may seem almost frivolous, but the fact of the matter is, your baby's room will have to be prepared sooner or later. And do you really want to be the parent who is still picking out paint with a six month old on your hip?
Although designing and decorating a whole new room may seem like an intimidating feat, doing so over the course of several months is much more approachable. Spaced out, you can easily get that nursery baby ready by the time your third trimester is here.
You have 9 months, there's no reason to get it done in one weekend
Give yourself enough time to be able to verbally spar with your partner on the theme and color scheme of what will become your favorite room in the house. If you allow yourself enough time to put the sort of attention into it, you won't be stuck with that swamp thing theme your partner keeps pushing.
We're all for being able to choose where your little one sleeps, whether that place is their own bedroom or right beside your bed in their cushioned bassinet. But eventually, they will require the use of their bedroom and you don't want to be putting it together before your baby is old enough to walk in there. Or craw in, for that matter.
4 Settle On Childcare
If you'll be going to (or returning to) work at some point after baby's arrival, then consider your childcare options well enough in advance to have the service locked in place for you. Touring large facilities and meeting with daycare employees is both important and plenty necessary, should you choose that route. Likewise, meeting with a home daycare provider or interviewing nannies is something that takes time and consideration.
What will you be able to afford? Do you prefer a lot of other babies for interaction, or a more one-on-one experience? These are things to consider and settle on before the little one is actually here. That way, you won't be overwhelmed with your newborn and this seemingly long list of childcare possibilities.
This is one of the hardest decisions you'll ever make for your child
This is perhaps one of the most important things to consider before you go into labor. Having a clear, open and calm mind about where your child will begin some of their first learning activities is as important as experiencing where your child will go to school someday. If you are to go to work full-time or even part-time, your child will be spending an ample amount of time in the childcare facility or home that you choose as the best choice.
Don't take it lightly, and remember, you have every right to be as choosy as possible.
3 Take A One Last Hoorah Trip
Now, planning a trip like this does not insinuate that your future family trips won't be any less amazing, but getting in one last adults-only vacation is important too.
Doing so will not only give you a chance to relax before the big arrival, but will also give you quality time with your significant other and your friends, too. And with a newborn, the possibility of legitimate trips - and even weekend getaways - may be a good six months away.
You'll never be alone again, so why not
Taking a one last hoorah grownup trip will squash any impending wanderlust or cabin fever in the weeks after giving birth. And while you should absolutely be saving right now - no, we haven't forgotten - make this a group trip with friends and other couples and minimize your individual costs.
2 Tour The Hospital
While this may be on your list of "eh, no big deal" tasks, signing up for that hospital tour is more important than you think. Okay sure, it's not the most exciting thing to do on a Saturday afternoon when you could be home getting your feet rubbed. And all of that walking! Have we lost you yet? Really though, touring the hospital before the big day can be the difference between your significant other strutting the halls like an old pro or getting lost and ending up in the psych ward.
Don't be afraid to ask about visiting policies and where the nursery is in the maternity ward. Or how many doctors will see your hoo-hah throughout the course of your delivery. Hint: the answer is a lot. Ask away though, because this will be the easiest and quickest way for all of your questions to be addressed with a group of other expectant couples to - hopefully - back you up with your concerns.
Get to know the maternity wing so you'll know what to expect when you come in
Take advantage of this free inside look at the hospital whose staff will be taking care of you and your baby. Plus, it is an excellent opportunity to get any curious questions out of the way. And the chance to scan that gift shop for which chocolate bars you'll be expecting from your visitors.
1 Become Best Friends With Your Freezer
You know all of those TV shows and movies where everyone brings over casseroles, pasta bakes and soups so that the new parents don't have to cook? Yeah, that doesn't really happen. But if you don't mind the kitchen yourself, donate an afternoon to preparing your own freezable dinners and Crock Pot -ready recipes.
Being able to simply pop a homemade meal in the oven and get the baby to sleep while it bakes is worth every moment spent over that hot stove in preparation. And the best part - other than being able to cook in advance and then relax as you reap the benefits - is that you can get this done with deep tin baking sheets are totally disposable. Meaning minimal cleanup. Meaning more time for naps between feedings.
And not just for the baby! See, who said this parenting thing was so hard?
Of course there is more to parenting and more to preparing for the arrival of your baby than meets the eye. And maybe there is no real surefire way to be totally prepared. Like every pregnancy is different, so is every infant, and even every child. But to follow these rules of thumb in preparing in these eight essential categories is beneficial in every pregnancy.
It isn't enough to simply wing it as you edge closer and closer to your due date. And about that ever so exact date? Yeah, you would do well to heed all of these tips well in advance of it. Because while the doctors sure do know an awful lot, they can also be terribly off on when baby bean will arrive. Or, the little one will be ready a few weeks early. And those weeks can mean all the world.
So don't wait until week 39 to make those freezer meals. And do not even attempt a 40 week waddle around the hospital on that tour.